Michigan State head football coach Mark Dantonio is certainly a hard-nosed type of guy. But on Wednesday, he showed that that serious demeanor is present only because of the level of care he has for each and every one of his players.
On Pro Day, representatives from 29 of the 32 NFL teams descended upon East Lansing to join Dantonio and his former players inside the indoor football arena at MSU to watch the athletes perform for the scouts. Also on hand were many of the current Spartan players there as a show of support for their departing former teammates.
"There's a lot of interest, we tell all our guys to dream big, because there are opportunities here,'' Dantonio said. "So you come and watch your teammates workout and run, and in two or three years that's going to be you.
"It's what everybody's dream is, and it should be, along with graduating, but it's a part of the experience here at Michigan State.''
Many Michigan State fans were saddened to learn that three of last season's top junior players would be forgoing their senior season with the program to take a chance in the 2013 NFL Draft. Running back Le'Veon Bell, defensive end William Gholston, and tight end Dion Sims all told Dantonio soon after the Spartans bowl game that they would not be returning for their senior season. Though he was no doubt disappointed, Mark Dantonio knew the three star players were likely headed off for bigger and better things.
"I'm a realist, so once those guys decide to leave, that's over, we need to recruit another guy and move on,'' Dantonio said. "But I'll miss that interaction with our guys, seeing Will Gholston in the halls with that big smile, or seeing Le'Veon playing around, taking a jab at me, or Johnny Adams and his competitive nature.
"I'm going to miss those guys, but that's a part of this,'' Dantonio said. "The best thing we can do is look forward, don't look back, look forward, and help these guys as they move forward in their careers in any way we can.''
Finding three players as talented as those juniors who opted out early will be no easy task for the coach, but with another season and spring practice just around the corner, spirits are high in the Spartans' camp as new talent is always just around the corner.
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